%% ZeroContextExample entries are not allowed on wiki pages. All such entries have been commented out. Add context to the entries before uncommenting them.
%% This page is for examples that cover multiple entries through the series. Please put examples specific to certain books on the appropriate subpage.

->''"The Man In Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed."''

So begins ''The Dark Tower'', Creator/StephenKing's epic long-runner, a series of seven books published over nearly thirty years. The series is frequently regarded as King's defining work. It is a long and complex MixAndMatch of SpeculativeFiction, HighFantasy, horror, PostModernism and [[TheWestern Westerns]].

A series of prequel comics, initially adaptions of flashbacks in the novels and now original stories, are ongoing from Marvel.

The books in the series are:
* ''Literature/TheGunslinger'' (1982)
* ''Literature/TheDrawingOfTheThree'' (1987)
* ''Literature/TheWasteLands'' (1991)
* ''Literature/WizardAndGlass'' (1997)
* "The Little Sisters of Eluria" (1998, a novella taking place before ''The Gunslinger'')
* ''Literature/WolvesOfTheCalla'' (2003)
* ''Literature/SongOfSusannah'' (2004)
* ''Literature/TheDarkTower'' (2004)
* ''Literature/TheWindThroughTheKeyhole'' (2012, takes place between ''Wizard and Glass'' and ''Wolves of the Calla'')

The story begins in a ScavengerWorld AfterTheEnd. Roland Deschain, Gunslinger of Gilead in the Barony of New Canaan, is pursuing a mysterious man across the desert, to get information about the eponymous tower. Roland himself begins as an enigma -- for about the first third of the first book, he's referred to in the narration only as "TheGunslinger". As the series goes on, we learn more about him, his world, and what drives him on his quest.

Roland is the last gunslinger, a sort of knight with revolvers, as well as [[LastOfHisKind the last survivor]] of his lineage, his city, and his kingdom. It's not really clear, even to him, how long it's been since Gilead fell and he began pursuing the Dark Tower. The very world he lives in, called Mid-World, seems to be unraveling -- even compass directions and the passage of time are not reliable. "The world has moved on," as they say.

He learns that to continue on to the tower, he must pull a select group of people from our world, including a lonely young boy, a heroin addict, and a woman with two [[SplitPersonality personalities]] -- one a civil rights and peace activist, the other a violent psychopath. And that's when the journey ''really'' begins.

The series had been in DevelopmentHell for over a decade trying to get it to screen/television, with Creator/RonHoward being involved at one point. As of November 2016, Creator/IdrisElba and Creator/MatthewMcConaughey have been cast as The Gunslinger and The Man In Black respectively, endorsed by King. The page for the film can be found [[Film/TheDarkTower2017 here]].

'''Unspoiled readers should use caution when reading this article. Although the later and more major spoilers are blocked out, events from the first four books[[note]]''The Gunslinger'', ''The Drawing Of Three'', ''The Wastelands'' and ''Wizard and Glass''[[/note]] can and will be unmarked.'''

The character page needs work. Please feel free to add to it.

This series is not to be confused with the unfinished book in Creator/CSLewis's ''[[Literature/TheSpaceTrilogy Space Trilogy]]'', also called "The Dark Tower".


[[folder: The Dark Tower Main Series]]
!!''The Dark Tower'' novel series provides examples of the following tropes:

* AdvancedAncientHumans: The Old Ones. While they managed to make some pretty amazing things, they eventually wiped themselves out with what appeared to be a nuclear war, though it's hinted that they used weapons that are far more arcane. The descendants of the survivors eventually became what little civilization All-World has left.
* AfterTheEnd: Far after. Though time has little meaning on All-World, thousands of years have passed since the devastating war of the Old Ones. And the world is still trying to heal. If that weren't bad enough, it's implied that All-World is running out of gas, the laws of physics are breaking down in localized areas, and that the whole world might just go kaput in another few thousand years.
* AIIsACrapshoot: The robots are all at least thousands of years old. Most of these that have not broken down completely have become homicidal. Blaine the Mono and Andy the Messenger Robot are two of the worst examples. Nigel and Stuttering Bill are the only two who remain friendly and helpful. There is also one robot wandering around the dead town of Fedic advertising for a brothel that has probably not operated for Gan knows how long, which just emphasises that the world has moved on.
* {{AKA47}}: Roland's revolvers are presumably analogous to some Earth-originating firearm, but the text never specifies anything beyond their having sandalwood grips and firing .45-cal cartridges. (That presumption may not be accurate anyhow, given that they are literally made from the steel of Arthur Eld's sword Excalibur, implying they were handcrafted and may be unique not just in our world but in Mid-world too.) In the film, they are "played" by Remington 1858 New Army revolvers.
** Although it doesn't in any way detract from the fiction, the guns in the books are all mixed up. Roland's guns are implied to be huge, long, Old West-style revolvers in .45 Long Colt, but feature swing-out cylinders (a mark of much later and smaller generation of revolvers), and he has no problems purchasing "Remington .45" ammunition for them in 1960s New York, probably mixed up with much more modern and different .45 ACP. Ruger company also never produced semi-automatic handguns in any variant of the .44 caliber (such as the ostentatious, "Desert Eagle like" one Jake steals from his father). It is also an important point in the novels that cartridges will go bad if so much as submerged once in water, which is untrue (but would be disastrous if Roland used the older cap-and-ball ammunition the author probably was inspired by, with its separate poured powder, caps, and lead balls which unfortunately can't be reloaded with uncanny speed of the gunslinger).
* AncestralWeapon: The ancient revolvers, forged from Excalibur no less.
* AndManGrewProud: Directly stated to be the reason the world moved on: the technologically-advanced Great Old Ones replaced the magical beams (which are the underlying structure of reality) with ones based on their technology, and sought to shape reality itself to their whims. They ultimately destroyed themselves in cataclysmic wars which left most of All-World devastated and poisoned. With no Old Ones to perform repairs and maintenance, their remaining technology slowly deteriorated, including that which supported the beams.
* AntiHero: Roland, at first. He allows Jake Chambers to fall to his death, rather than risk losing The Man In Black.
* AnyoneCanDie: And most do. Come the series finale, [[spoiler:Susannah and Roland are the only survivors of the ''ka-tet'', and most of the supporting cast is also dead.]]
* ApocalypseHow: Multi-Universal Destruction! Almost Total Irreversible Destruction of All Reality, but the BigBad wants a chaotic void leftover (i.e. his home).
* ArchEnemy: The Man in Black and Roland, the Gunslinger. In a more one-sided way, the Crimson King to Roland.
* ArcNumber: 19 and, to a lesser degree, 3 and 99.
* ArcSymbol: The rose, which was associated with both [[Myth/KingArthur Arthur]] and the Dark Tower. This becomes a plot point as the series progresses.
* ArcWords: Many and many-a, as they say in Roland's world:
** "See the TURTLE of enormous girth"
** "O Susannah-Mio".
** "The man in black fled across the desert..."
** "Go then; there are other worlds than these."
** "Commala-come-come" and "come-come-commala".
** "Mordred is a-hungry."
** "Blaine is a pain."
** "The world has moved on."
** "Ka is a wheel."
** "O Discordia."
** "Dad-a-chum, dud-a-chee, not to worry, you've got the key."
** "Ka?" "Ka." "Kaka."
* ArtifactOfDoom: The thirteen different-hued crystal balls of "the Wizard's Rainbow"--the most dangerous of them all being ''Black Thirteen''.
* AssPull: [[spoiler:Patrick Danville's ability to erase/create matter with his magical pencil being introduced conveniently a couple of chapters right before he erases the BigBad out of existence. [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] in that King deliberately admits that it's a DeusExMachina. Justified in-universe (see DeusExMachina) as King deliberately helping the characters after they save his life.]]
* AuthorAvatar: [[spoiler:Stephen King himself shows up in books six and seven. It's mentioned that the young Stephen King looks remarkably similar to Roland. They are also noted for being enthusiastic smokers. The three guardians of the Crimson King's castle assume King's appearance in book seven.]]
* AuthorExistenceFailure: [[spoiler:Stephen King's near-fatal accident in 1999 becomes a major plot point in Book 7, leading directly to Jake Chamber's death, and King's decision (in-universe and in-reality) to finish the books.]]
* BadassCrew: Roland and his ''[[TrueCompanions ka-tet]]'' . All of them save Oy are born gunslingers, and as such are capable of instantly mastering any weapon they come across.
* BadassCreed: The Gunslinger's Creed:
-->''I do not aim with my hand;\\
He who aims with his hand has forgotten the face of his father.\\
I aim with my eye.\\\
I do not shoot with my hand;\\
He who shoots with his hand has forgotten the face of his father.\\
I shoot with my mind.\\\
I do not kill with my gun;\\
He who kills with his gun has forgotten the face of his father.\\
I kill with my heart.''
%%* BadassNormal: Roland and his Ka-Tet.
* BadassPreacher: [[spoiler:Father Callahan]] in ''Literature/SongOfSusannah''. Though not a capable gunslinger, he earns his place in the ''ka-tet'' when he proves that faith can, in fact, hurt vampires.
* BeautyEqualsGoodness: Even more blatant in the BackStory ''Literature/WizardAndGlass'' when Roland was young and had a LoveInterest and several older, uglier enemies.
%%* BecauseDestinySaysSo
%%* BewareTheNiceOnes: Jake.
* {{BFG}}: Tricks Postino, one of Balazar's henchmen, likes to use a ridiculously-large M16 for every firefight he gets into. He affectionately calls it "The Wonderful Rambo Machine".
* BigBad: Initially, it appears to the readers to be the Man in Black. Though later he's it becomes known that he's just a minion of [[SatanicArchetype the Crimson King]].
* BittersweetEnding: The series finale, on two counts:
** Firstly, [[spoiler:Susannah decides she's tired of being a gunslinger and, weary from losing Eddie and Jake, has Patrick create a final "Unfound" door for her. After a bitter goodbye with Roland and Oy, she crosses over even though it could lead to todash darkness. An epilogue shows she went to another New York, meeting a parallel-universe Eddie and Jake, who are brothers in this universe and partially carry the memories of their dead selves. Feeling her own memories of Midworld fading, the three settle back into normal life, apparently crossing paths with an alternate Oy in the near future.]]
** Secondly, [[spoiler:Roland climbs the Tower, entering room after room where he's shown imagery of key events from his life. He finally reaches the top, and finds a door which he opens. The door opens onto the desert in the first book, and Roland realizes the horrible truth: he's been here before. Many times over. And each and every time, he is cast on to the desert, with his wounds healed and memories erased. However, this time he has the Horn of Eld, which he had previously abandoned in haste, in his possession, and it's implied that if he does it right, this time might the final time he's forced to re-walk his path to the Tower.]]
%%* BlackKnight
* BlastingItOutOfTheirHands
** Played with in ''Literature/TheDrawingOfTheThree'', when it causes the gun to explode in the holder's face; later, played straight with both a guard's .38 and a man's switchblade.
** Played straight in ''Literature/WizardAndGlass'' when Roland's father does it in a flashback.
* BookEnds: The whole series [[spoiler:has "The man in black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed." as the first and last sentence from an internal perspective.]]
* ABoyAndHisX: Jake Chambers of New York and Oy the Billy-Bumbler of Mid-World.
* BrandX: The parallel Earths that appear throughout the series are differentiated from "Keystone Earth" primarily by the existence of different consumer products, like Nozz-A-La Cola, Takuro Spirit automobiles, and a baseball team called the Kansas City Monarchs. The latter is likely a reference to the [[http://www.nlbpa.com/kansas_city_monarchs.html Negro League]] team of the same name.
* CanonWelding: ''The Dark Tower'' draws in characters, plot-lines, and themes from about two dozen other King novels, including Literature/{{It}}, Literature/SalemsLot, Literature/TheStand, Literature/{{Insomnia}}, Literature/TheMist...
%%* CelebrityParadox
* ChasedOffIntoTheSunset: In ''The Dark Tower'', [[spoiler:The last line is the same as the first line of the first book: "The Man In Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed."]]
* TheChessmaster: Marten Broadcloak in the back-story of Roland's homeland of Gilead, who was responsible for organizing the forces that wrought its downfall. Marten's other alias, Walter, who organizes several "traps" for Roland in the Mohaine Desert.
* ComedyAsAWeapon: Eddie does this literally in ''Literature/WizardAndGlass''. When it turns out that Roland is losing to Blaine the Mono in a riddling contest, Eddie realises that some of his nonsensical jokes technically pass as riddles. Blaine gradually breaks down mentally and eventually commits "suicide" when he realises he's lost.
* ComicBookAdaptation: There are a series of comics written by Robin Furth and Peter David that tell the story of the events leading up to Roland's quest for the Tower.
* CompoundInterestTimeTravelGambit: In ''The Dark Tower'', [[spoiler:Eddie's plan to make the Tet Corporation more powerful than Sombra rests on making investments in 1977 that will reap huge profits by 1987.]]
%%* ContinuityDrift
%%* ContinuityNod
%%* CosmicDeadline
* CosmicKeystone: The cosmic keystone to all other cosmic keystones: The Dark Tower. If it should fall, all of reality is undone.
* CrapsackWorld: All-World. Much of the world is still heavily poisoned from the apocalyptic wars of the Great Old Ones, and several of their ancient weapons continue to wreak havoc. Aside from the [[spoiler: Callas in Book Five]], most of the world is a wasteland, with sparse human survivors from ancient times and the destruction of All-World's last true civilization, the Affiliation of Baronies. As if all of that weren't bad enough, the world itself is falling apart. Clocks and compasses no longer accurately record time, and distances seem to grow and shrink with no rhyme or reason.
%%* CreatorBreakdown
* CrisisCrossover: A number of characters from King's other books, including ''Literature/TheStand'', ''Literature/SalemsLot'', ''Literature/{{Insomnia}}'', ''Literature/HeartsInAtlantis'', ''Everything's Eventual'' pop up throughout the series, and the plots of many other novels are tangentially linked to Roland's quest.
* CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass: Eddie.
* CurbstompBattle: Almost every fight that the gunslingers get into is finished quickly and without much effort, no matter what odds are stacked against them and no matter how much their opponent is built up beforehand. Some examples include:
** The entire town of Tull, including a strangely formidable cult leader, turns against Roland all at once. He slaughters everyone with only a few wounds that do nothing at all to slow him down.
** Shardik, an enormous and ancient cyborg bear, is defeated by Suzanne with a shot to its weak spot.
** The Tick Tock Man is an enourmous badass who displays quickness on par with or quicker than Roland to Jake's eye. He's defeated twice without putting up much of a fight.
** The three hired guns in Mejis don't even get a shot off against the heroes before being unceremoniously gunned down.
** Walter, in spite of being Roland's nemesis through most of the series and being apparently immune to his bullets, gets defeated by Mordred in a manner that Mordred finds pathetic.
** Mordred, in spite of his demonic parentage and with seemingly unbeatable mind control powers, does nothing but charge Roland when he's asleep and gets gunned down the same as any other villain. [[spoiler:This may not qualify under the trope, since Oy [[HeroicSacrifice has to die]] to buy the Gunslinger time to wake up and kill Mordred.]]
** The Crimson King, in spite of being some sort of immortal demi-god, does nothing but hurl sneetches at Roland when they finally cross paths. He's defeated by a deus ex machina after putting up no more of a fight than a random mook.
* DarkIsNotEvil: The title Dark Tower [[spoiler:is the axis upon which the countless realities and universes spin, and is implied to be the manifestation of the creator Gan Itself.]]
%%* DeathIsCheap
* DesertPunk
%%* {{Determinator}}: Roland.
* DeusExMachina: Played entirely straight (and lampshaded) with [[spoiler:Stephen King showing up in Book Six and has a direct hand in Book 7.]]
* DisneyDeath: Jake, who falls soundlessly into an abyss in ''The Gunslinger''.
* DoorStopper: ''The Gunslinger'' is the only book shorter than 400 pages in length for the hard-cover. Books IV, V, and VII are exceptionally long, with each being well over 700 pages in length (and ''Dark Tower VII'' being nearly 900 pages in length).
%%* TheDragon: Randall Flagg.
* DrivenToSuicide: Narrowly [[SubvertedTrope subverted]] with [[spoiler:Eddie in The ''Literature/TheDrawingOfTheThree''. After Roland inquires as to why he stopped, Eddie initially tries to deflect with a joke before revealing to Roland that he couldn't let him die.]]
* DrivingQuestion: What lies at the top of the Dark Tower?
* DroppedABridgeOnHim: [[spoiler:Flagg, Eddie, and Jake are all killed off suddenly in the final book. Flagg is killed by Mordred when his nemesis, Roland, isn't even present. Eddie is abruptly shot by an almost-dead villain after he survives the Battle of Algul Siento. Jake is hit by a car driven by a random reckless driver in Maine when he pushes Stephen King out of the way.]]
%%* EldritchAbomination: Creatures in the todash darkness.
* EldritchLocation: All-World. North may be southwest the next day, distances seem to grow and shrink almost at random, and time is so warped that clocks are unreliable.
%%* EncyclopediaExposita
%%* EnfantTerrible: The Little Red King.
%%* [[spoiler:EternalRecurrence]]
%%* EvilChancellor: Marten Broadcloak.
* EvilDetectingDog: Oy (although not technically a dog) fills this role at some points during the story.
* EvilPlan: The Crimson King's ultimate goal is to [[spoiler:destroy the Tower and the universes created by it, via destroying the beams that hold the Tower up through the use of psychics.]]
* EvilSorcerer: Randall Flagg in all his forms and disguises.
* FantasticHonorifics: "Sai" is a gender-neutral, catch-all honorific.
* FantasticMeasurementSystem: A "wheel" is equal to about 1.5 miles.
* FantasyGunControl: One of the most prominent aversions in fantasy. Roland's guns are made from the melted-down sword of his ancestor Arthur Eld, King of All-World. It's quite heavily implied that Arthur Eld is '''the''' KingArthur. Which would make his sword {{Excalibur}}.
* FastestGunInTheWest: Played with a bit, in that the gunslinger candidates of Gilead who aren't good enough are "sent west" in exile.
%%* FeetOfClay: [[spoiler:The Crimson King.]]
* {{Fictionary}}: We hear bits and pieces of the High Tongue, but there's no real sense of a separate grammar or syntax distinct from English.
* FirstEpisodeSpoiler: The Man in Black is really Marten Broadcloak, the Wizard from Gilead who had an affair with Roland's mother. And Roland's quest isn't to kill Marten... it's to interrogate him so he can find the Dark Tower.
%%* FishOutOfTemporalWater
%%* FlashSideways
* FourEyesZeroSoul: Every character who is said to wear glasses is either a murderer or a traitor.
* FullFrontalAssault: In ''Drawing of the Three'', Balazar forces Eddie to strip naked to prove that he's not hiding his cocaine. Once Eddie figures out that Balazar killed his brother, he and Roland have an all-out gun battle with Balazar's goons. ''While'' Eddie's naked.
* GainaxEnding: In the last book, [[spoiler:Susannah goes off to live in an alternate universe with ReplacementGoldfish versions of her dead friends, and Roland finds out that he's been stuck in a GroundhogDayLoop his entire life. Also, the Dark Tower turns out to be filled with relics from Roland's life, and its top floor houses a time warp that takes him back to the beginning of his quest. The only thing that stops it from being a full blown example of this trope is that now Roland has the Horn of Gilead in his bag, marking the first significant change in the loop thus far]].
* GenerationXerox: A few odd examples
** Roland's new ka-tet, despite being from different universes and not blood relations, display characteristics of his old ka-tet, though not always in the same way.
** Roland is a descendant of KingArthur. Both of them went on a grand quest for a magical artifact, and both had an illegitimate son conceived through magic who betrayed them. In both cases, the son was named [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Mordred]]. And, since KingArthur only had one canonical heir, the new Mordred is a GenerationXerox of the old, though he has two fathers and inherits [[BodyHorror characteristics]] from both.
* GenreSavvy: [[spoiler:''Literally'' the case in Book Five, when some of the characters start to get suspicious of how certain situations pop out, a certain number keeps repeating (19), and so forth. They eventually figure out that they're creations of Stephen King, and confront him in "our" universe.]]
* GoodIsNotNice: Roland can be a real dick sometimes, and he has little patience for softness or weakness.
* GoodSmokingEvilSmoking: Even Jake begins smoking to better emulate our hero and champion smoker, Roland.
* GreekChorus: Creator/StephenKing, except for when he appears.
* TheGunslinger: Roland Deschain and anyone from his old and new ka-tets. The [[KnightErrant the order of Arthurian heroes]] in Mid-World are even called Gunslingers.
%%* {{Handguns}}
* HandGuns: While longarms and weapons besides firearms appear from time to time, the primary weapons of the heroes are [[RevolversAreJustBetter revolvers]].
* HandicappedBadass: Roland from the second book, since he loses his first two fingers on his right hand. Susannah is in a wheel chair, since she - or strictly speaking Odetta Holmes - lost her legs from the knees down after she was pushed in front of a subway train.
** Subject to a slight {{Retcon}} in Roland's case, since he originally lost his right big toe as well in ''The Drawing of the Three''; but from the introduction of ''The Waste Lands'' onward, no mention is made of that injury.
* HardWorkHardlyWorks: It seems that becoming a gunslinger is more a state of mind than the result of rigorous training. It seems to take only a few months of casual training to make Eddie, Susannah and Jake into gunslingers, the baddest asses in any dimension.
%%* HereWeGoAgain
%%* HeroicSacrifice: Several, particularly in Book Seven.
* HeterosexualLifePartners: Calvin Tower and Aaron Deepneau. Later Finli o'Tego and Pimli Prentiss.
* HiddenVillain: The Crimson King isn't mentioned until ''Wizard and Glass''. The revised editions have him mentioned at least once (or inferred to) throughout the first three books.
%%* HighFantasy
* HomicideMachines: Almost every machine that is sentient has degenerated into this by the time the story takes place.
* HornyDevils: The demons of Roland's world include the equivalent of succubi and incubi. In fact, some can be [[GenderBender both incubi and succubi]].
* IAmXSonOfY: This form of introduction is common in Roland's world.
* ICallItVera: Tricks Postino and his M16, "The Wonderful Rambo Machine".
* IHaveManyNames: Randall Flagg (real name Walter Padick), the Crimson King's [[TheDragon Dragon]] (and TheStarscream to boot), also appears as Marten Broadcloak, Walter o'Dim, anything with the letters 'RF' in it, and in a brief scene even impersonates ''Literature/TheWonderfulWizardOfOz'' himself.
* IJustKnew: Insights driven by "''ka''", or destiny. It's a central tenet of gunslinger philosophy and spirituality in Roland's world in general.
* IconicItem: The rose, Roland's revolvers, and of course the Tower itself.
* ImprobableAimingSkills
** Gunslingers all have this skill, with whatever weapon they're using.
** The Oriza dish-throwers, some of whom can cut a turnip in half with what are essentially razor-edged frisbees.
* InformedAttractiveness: We know almost nothing about what Susan looks like except that she's blonde and beautiful, which we're told repeatedly.
* InformedFlaw: We're repeatedly told that Roland is a slow thinker and has no imagination, yet he's intelligent and inventive enough whenever there's a need for him to be.
* InterdimensionalTravelDevice: The doors that allow the characters to travel between different timelines and alternate universes, including [[spoiler:one in which they meet Stephen King.]]
* JediMindTrick: Jake's key in Book III. [[spoiler:Also Susannah's turtle in Book VI.]]
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Roland, who may be a gunslinger through-and-through, eventually loses his stern exterior and even becomes friends to his ka-tet.
%%* JigsawPuzzlePlot
%%* JudgeJuryAndExecutioner
* KingArthur: Roland's greatest ancestor is Arthur Eld, his universe's equivalent of King Arthur who conquered and ruled All-World more than a thousand years before Roland was born. His sword was melted down to create the two guns that eventually became Roland's.
* KnightErrant: The gunslingers are updated versions, descended from Camelot.
* KudzuPlot: King adds an increasingly large number of side-plots and characters in the later books. [[spoiler:We have Father Callahan, Mia and her "chap", the storyline with Stephen King, their attempts to get Calvin Tower to sign over the least for the plot with the Rose, and so forth.]]
* LastOfHisKind: Roland's the Last Gunslinger.
* LemonyNarrator: The narrator becomes increasingly apparent as a personality toward the end of the series.
* LeyLine: The Beams, invisible spokes of energy holding the titular Dark Tower together. If too many should fall, the Dark Tower will falter and all reality will be destroyed.
* LiteraryAgentHypothesis: [[spoiler:Stephen King is both the narrator and storyteller, as well as a character in the story itself.]]
* LiteraryAllusionTitle:
** The series title to the poem ''Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came'' by Creator/RobertBrowning.
** ''Literature/TheWasteLands'' to the poem ''Literature/TheWasteLand'' by Creator/TSEliot.
* LimitedSpecialCollectorsUltimateEdition: All of the books were released as this initially. In the case of ''The Gunslinger'' (in part because King assumed most of his casual readers wouldn't be interested), it took six years before it got a trade release.
* LimitedWardrobe: Surprisingly not any of the main characters. It's more the Can-toi, the Crimson King's own personal {{Mook}} army; they all wear yellow coats in our world to disguise themselves, so their nickname is "Low Men in yellow coats". This phrase was also the title of the first part of ''Literature/HeartsInAtlantis'', where Ted Brautigan (a Breaker that appears in the final book of the series, ''The Dark Tower'') is first introduced.
* LostTechnology: The Great Old Ones left a wide range of advanced relics behind when they destroyed themselves, including Blaine the Slow Trans Mono Train, Shardik the Bear, war machines such as tanks, and so forth.
* MacGuffinLocation: The tower itself.
* MadLibFantasyTitle: The "Dark" in ''The Dark Tower'' is not the most inventive of descriptors, although it is certainly evocative.
* MeanwhileInTheFuture: Several events in [[spoiler:Book VII]] happen in different time periods of the same universe simultaneously.
* MixAndMatchCritters: Billy-Bumblers, small creatures described as having a gray and black striped coat and a cross between raccoons, woodchucks, and dachshunds. Smart ones could also talk like parrots.
* {{Mook}}: Rank and file enemies never present any threat to the gunslingers. They're mowed down almost casually no matter how many there are.
* MultiRangedMaster: Gunslingers are especially known for their expertise with revolvers, but they tend to be crack shots with any ranged weapon they pick up, including slingshots and ''sharpened plates.'' Part of their creed is "I do not aim with my hand. He who aims with his hand has forgotten the face of his father. I aim with my eye."
* TheMultiverse: The setting for ''The Dark Tower'' series, as well as what Roland and his Ka-Tet are trying to save.
* MustMakeAmends: Roland, the "good guy," ends up letting Jake, a boy he has grown to love, fall to his death by dropping him off an underground railway into a bottomless cavern in order to continue his quest. However, Jake is only in the same universe as Roland because he re-incarnated there after being killed in New York City. Roland unexpectedly ends up in Jake's New York, and, because Roland still loves him and regrets his previous decision, takes the opportunity to prevent the original death. This not only saves Jake, but creates a horrible paradox solved only when Roland helps him cross again to his world, where he embraces him as a son and trains him to take part in his quest.
** To borrow from Creator/GeorgeRRMartin, Stephen King (in-universe and in RealLife) is a Gardener-type of author; that is, he doesn't ''plan'' his novels so much as lets the writing itself dictate the story. What Roland did is what King felt was true and in-character for him, so really he can't decide if Jake's death is his own fault, or Roland's, but either way he was too disturbed to write the story for a long while afterwards.
* MythArc: For many Stephen King works, and for King himself. Stephen King is a self-professed fantasy geek, and always wanted to write an epic fantasy series to be remembered by; most of his other works tie in with ''The Dark Tower'' in some way or other.
* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast: Jack Mort. Gasher. Mordred.
%%* NatureSpirit: The Beam guardians.
* NeglectfulPrecursors: [[AdvancedAncientHumans The Old Ones]], who were technologically advanced, yet managed to wipe out their entire civilization. They made advanced robots, portals to other worlds, even some {{magitek}} to go with it. It was also stated that they ended up destroying themselves and [[spoiler: set the stage to undermine the Dark Tower]] due to overconfidence, which was brought about since [[Myth/{{Merlin}} Maerlyn]] was advising from the shadows to do things that were, in the long run, against their best interests.
%%* NemeanSkinning
%%* NewOldWest
* NietzscheWannabe: The Crimson King's goal is to destroy the universe -- so he can create a new one in his own image.
* NoFourthWall: [[spoiler: The author of the series is a character within it, and characters discuss the possibility that they're works of fiction.]]
* NoOntologicalInertia: [[spoiler:King in-novel is one of the cornerstones of reality just as the rose and tower are, and his characters eventually come to realize they only exist because he is writing them. This existential binding is so great that the injuries King sustains during his impending car crash start to manifest on Roland similar to acute, fast-acting arthritis until things get [[JustInTime down to the wire,]] when he realizes they're a full-on skull crushing and hip smashing waiting to happen. After they save King and make him finish the story, Roland gets better.]]
* NoSenseOfHumor: We're told several times that Roland has no sense of humor, but he makes a deadpan snark from time to time.
%%* TheNothingAfterDeath: Todash Darkness.
%%* OmnicidalManiac: The Crimson King.
* OneSteveLimit: {{Subverted}}, as two pivotal characters going by variations of Sue -- Susan Delgado, Roland's first love, and Susannah Dean, an eventual member of Roland's ka-tet.
* OtherworldlyAndSexuallyAmbiguous: The demon who had sex with Roland in the first book and raped Susannah in the third book could change sexes.
* OurVampiresAreDifferent: There are several "types" of vampire. Type 1 are classic vampires who are powerful and intelligent. Type two get burned by the sun, aren't very intelligent and have a terrible thirst, so they don't last long. Type three are more like regular people who occasionally need to drink blood. Type four are a WormThatWalks pretending to be healer nuns. There are also inhuman psychic vampires that feed on emotions.
* PettingZooPeople: The Can-toi and Taheen. Officially they are free moral agents and have as much capacity to be good or evil as humans, but practically all of the ones we see are in the service of [[BigBad the Crimson King.]]
** Can-toi are always rat like and bestial; they find upside down pictures to be the height of wit.
** Taheen can resemble any animal and are very similar to humans. One even has a nice discussion about literature with a supporting character.
%%* ThePlace
%%* PostModernism
* PowerTrio: Roland's original ''ka-tet'', which included the joking, slingshot-wielding Cuthbert and the sombre, strongly psychic Alain.
* ProtectiveCharm: The "skoldpadda" ("turtle", literally "shield-toad" in Swedish), a brooch representing the Turtle, one of the Beam Guardians, and possibly molded after an entity that appears to be a benevolent metaforce in the verse. The brooch's powers are left somewhat vague, but anyone holding it tends to come out unscathed during fights.
%%* PsychicDreamsForEveryone
%%* TheQuest
* RaceAgainstTime: Outside of the whole "reach the Dark Tower" for the central objective, there tends to be a "serious impending deadline" plot-thread [[OncePerEpisode once per book]]:
** ''The Drawing of Three'': Roland spends the book racing to draw his three before the infection from lobstrocity wounds can work it's way into his heart.
** ''The Wastelands'': Jake must be pulled back to Mid-World with a perfect key at the right time lest he be killed. Later, after Jake is kidnapped by Gasher of the Greys, Roland and Oy must follow Gasher through several booby-traps before they lose his scent. Finally, the ka-tet must escape Lud before it is destroyed around them.
** ''Wizard and Glass'': Blaine the Mono has to be bested in a game of riddles before they reach the end of the line, where Blaine will deliberately crash and kill the passengers in spite.
** ''Song of Susannah'': One of the primary plot threads, as [[spoiler:the ka-tet effectively sidelines the Dark Tower to rescue Susannah from Mia, among other things.]]
** ''The Dark Tower'': [[spoiler:Firstly the ka-tet has to liberate Thunderclap before the Beam is broken, and then must save Stephen King from being hit and killed by a van.]]
* RagnarokProofing: Played with. While some of the Great Old Ones' technology continues to function thousands of years later (including the city of Lud, which is still standing), most of it is breaking down, ranging from their trains to the Beams holding up the Tower.
%%* RapeAsBackstory: [[spoiler:Randall Flagg/Walter.]]
%%* {{Reconstruction}}
* RecycledInSpace: Much of the series is strongly influenced by ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'' and other works; Volume V, in particular, [[LampshadeHanging openly admits]] to lifting its main storyline from ''Film/TheMagnificentSeven'', [[spoiler:which causes Eddie to realize he may be a character in a work of fiction.]]
* RegretfulTraitor: Deconstructed several times.
** Roland's father had a cook who was a FriendToAllChildren, was kind to Roland and his friends when Roland was a kid, and was reluctant to obey Farson's orders to poison guests to a feast. After the cook was caught and executed, Roland's father summed it up by saying that the man only betrayed them reluctantly... but that reluctance wouldn't have stopped children from dying in agony after being poisoned.
** Several of the higher-ups of Mejis from ''Wizard and Glass'' have private thoughts where they regret allying with Farson and come to doubt that any good will come of it. They never do anything to make up for the betrayal, however, and are promptly killed by [[TheHeavy Jonas and the Coffin Hunters]] for being a potential liability and to frame Roland and friends.
* ReliablyUnreliableGuns: Played straight with anything fully automatic. Machine guns ''always'' jam, and things typically get worse for their wielder from there. In one of Roland's training flashbacks, Cort explains that every gun is ruled by the Devil, and will jam at the worst possible time.
* ReplacementGoldfish: Invoked with Jake, who serves as ''his own replacement.'' He wakes up in Mid-World after he dies on Earth, and he dies again when Roland abandon's him to chase the Man in Black. Later, Roland telepathically visits Earth in the head of Jake's killer, and overrides him from murdering Jake, causing a later prevents his death and causes a paradox; granted, he carries the same thoughts and is effectively the same person, but the fact remains he's not the same entity that Roland left to die.
** Also invoked in the final book. [[spoiler:After Eddie and Jake are killed for real. Susannah goes off to live in an alternate universe where they're still alive. In the new universe, they're brothers named Eddie Toren and Jake Toren, who know and love Susannah by proxy as they carrying their alternative selves' thoughts through dreams. The commentary from King suggests that they will eventually get a replacement Oy to be the family dog]].
* {{Retcon}}: In ''Literature/TheWasteLands,'' Oy is distinguished from his fellow billy-bumblers by missing his tail. In later books, he is described wrapping his long cork-screw tail around himself occasionally. This is never explained. Later editions remove the mentions of him being tailless. He merely has severe scarring on his haunches, and the ka-tet theorizes he was forcibly kicked out of his pack for being a chatterbox.
%%* RevisedEnding
* RevolversAreJustBetter: Revolvers are the weapons of gunslingers and they always outperform other weapons. However, the specific revolvers that they use are also very special.
* RewatchBonus: The first book makes a great deal more sense if the entire series has been read. Several vague events, ranging from Roland's nightmares of a sacrifice, remembering his friends and Jericho Hill, recognizing Sheb the pianist, and even his tarot reading at the end all act as confusing {{foreshadowing}} on the first read, but can actually be enjoyed the next time around.
%%* SadClown: Eddie and Cuthbert.
%%* ScavengerWorld: All-World.
* SchizoTech: Several groups (including the Crimson King's) have put remnants of ancient technology to work. We also see some of the Great Old Ones' war machines being worked on in the back-story of Gilead's fall.
* ScienceIsBad: [[spoiler:The reason the Great Old Ones fell was because they were deceived by the "false light of Science", and thus replaced the eternal magic with technological and scientific support, which would eventually break down after they used that same technology to destroy themselves.]]
* SeriesGoal: Reach and enter the Dark Tower. In order to do so, however, the Ka-Tet must save it first.
* SeriousBusiness: Riddling is ''very'' serious business in Mid-World. Lethal brawls have been started during Fair-Day festivals over it, and riddles play an important role in Literature/TheWastelands, when Roland and his ka-tet must use them to save themselves from [[AIIsACrapshoot Blaine the Mono]].
* ShootTheDog: As per Walter's taunts and Jake's premonition, Roland charges across the collapsing bridge and leaves Jake clinging to the side. Roland narrowly makes it, living to catch Walter and further pursue the tower, but at the cost of the boy he adopted and loved.
* ShoutOut: To many different stories, from the ''ComicBook/FantasticFour'' and Music/KingCrimson's ''Music/InTheCourtOfTheCrimsonKing'' to Creator/TSEliot's poems, and in particular to Creator/RobertBrowning's ''Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came''.
* SnicketWarningLabel: Before the coda, King asks the reader not to read it, saying that the journey should have been satisfying enough.
* SoleSurvivor: Roland was the only survivor of the battle on Jericho Hill.
%%* TheStarscream: Flagg, to the Crimson King.
* SuddenlyAlwaysKnewThat: Roland occasionally brings up an amazing skill when the plot requires. Examples include his hypnosis abilities, his knowledge of riddles, his dancing skills and his ability to keep perfect time.
* SweetTooth: Strangely averted for Roland. After going through a HeroicBSOD the first time he takes a sip of cola, due to the rarity of sugar in his own world, he never once expresses any desire to eat anything sweet while in America. Even when they discover Nozz-a-la while traveling through Mid-World, there is no description of Roland's reaction. By contrast, he does request tunafish later on.
* ThinDimensionalBarrier: "Thinnies" show up throughout the works of Creator/StephenKing. Here they're explained to be a symptom of the ongoing collapse of the multiverse.
* ThirteenIsUnlucky: The thirteen orbs of Maerlyn's Rainbow, magical crystal balls which allow their wielders to spy on certain actions.
* ToBecomeHuman: A succubus actually wants to become human so that she can have a child. With a DealWithTheDevil, she becomes ''effectively'' human, but she wasn't born with gametes, requiring a little more effort...
* TownWithADarkSecret: Both Hambry (human sacrifice as an agricultural rite) and Calla Bryn Sturgis (breed stock for part of the Crimson King's master plan).
* TranslatorMicrobes: At the Tet Corporation lobby, there is a sign which always appears in the readers native language, Roland immeadiately realizes this because his language has been dead for thousands of years. Also, it's implied a few times that Roland hears his companions in his own language, and has great difficulty using words that don't exist in Gilead's language, such as "aspirin" and "tuna fish". His ka-tet also realize that they can understand the high tongue, though it should sound like gibberish to them.
%%* TrappedInAnotherWorld
%%* TrilogyCreep
* TwinTelepathy: A major plot point in ''Wolves of the Calla''. Every year, the Wolves of Thunderclap ride kidnap someone from each pair of twins. It turns out that [[spoiler:the Crimson King wants the chemical that gives twins a natural telepathic connection. He plans to use it to enhance the powers of the telepaths working to bring down the Tower]].
%%* TwistEnding: Every book. The last one included.
* TwoferTokenMinority: Susannah--black, in a wheelchair, has multiple personality disorder, and the only woman in the ''ka-tet''.
* WalkingTheEarth: Roland decided to take up this path as a youth as a quest to seek out the Dark Tower. He's often alone until he starts to form a ka-tet, and he sometimes suffers physically as a consequence, nearly costing him his life in ''The Gunslinger''.
* WelcomeToTheRealWorld: Roland visits the Earth at a few points through the latter 20th century, first to bring Susannah, Eddie, and later Jake to Mid-World. Then again at a few later points.
%%* WeirdWest
* WhatTheHellHero: Roland's new ka-tet often finds him hard-hearted and exasperating, and they're not afraid to tell him so. He's specifically called out in the final book when he insists on continuing his journey to the Tower, even after destroying the Crimson King's "breakers." It's pointed out to him that he's actually ''won;'' the Tower is saved, the beams will regenerate and the multiverse will survive. But by going to the Tower himself, he puts everything at risk once again, all to serve his obsessive quest.
* WorldTree: The Tower itself is [[spoiler: the axis which holds the worlds together.]]
* WorldOfWeirdness: The metaplot plays out like a mystical Arthurian legend, with old west gunslingers instead of knights, set to a WeirdWest backdrop setting similar to that of VideoGame/{{Fallout}}. All-World is set AfterTheEnd after the mind-bendingly advanced Old Ones wiped out their civilization, leaving much of the world an irradiated wreck populated by mutants and ruins and now-ancient artifacts, and occasionally the functional piece of high-tech. And then the world contains magic, demons, spirits, and all sorts of supernatural phenomena, including the Dark Tower, which the Old Ones were aware of as being a CosmicKeystone. ''And then'' the world is plagued by a strange set of physics that are worn down and variable; time is noted as being "soft" and inconsistent, compasses and clocks don't consistently work, distances seem to be variable, [[NegativeSpaceWedgie thinnies and todashes]] appear without rhyme or reason, and the sun doesn't always rise in the east though it always sets in the west.
* WritersCannotDoMath: It's inconsistent what year Susannah came from. In the second book, it's stated that it's been three months since the assassination of [[UsefulNotes/JohnFKennedy JFK]]; that means it's February 1964. Not much later, it's stated that August 19, 1959 (when she lost her legs) was five and a half years before; that means it's February 1965. In the third book, the year is several times said to be 1963. In the following books, it's consistently stated to be 1964. However, in the sixth book, she reminiscences about the murders of Civil Rights activists James Cheney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, which happened in June 1964. It might be a [[LampshadeHanging lampshade]] on this that Susannah thinks in the seventh book that she lived in America until 1964 "or was it '65?". Since TimeyWimeyBall is an explicit side effect of the Dark Tower's slow weakening, it may also just be the past sliding out from under her.
%%* YouAreTheTranslatedForeignWord
* YouCantFightFate: a central tenet of the entire concept of ''ka'', which means not just "fate" but also "personality." There are certain things that will always be true for, or of, certain people, because that is just their nature.
%%* YoungGun: Eddie.

[[folder: The Dark Tower Comic Series]]
!!''The Dark Tower'' comic series provides examples of the following tropes:

* AdaptationExpansion: Pretty much the entire purpose of the series. It expands on Roland's past, particularly the fall of Gilead.
%%* ArtifactOfDoom: Maerlyn's Grapefruit.
* BeautyEqualsGoodness
** Susan Delgado is, by far, the nicest and most attractive character in the series.
** Subverted with Aileen when she decides to adopt a more butch look.
%%* TheBadGuyWins
* BigBad: The Crimson King, natch. Goodman John Farson plays a much bigger role in this.
* ComicBookAdaptation: The comics are expanded adaptations of Roland's flashbacks in the main series.
* CanonDiscontinuity: King's interquel ''Literature/TheWindThroughTheKeyhole'' effectively negates much of the background material introduced in the comics; for example, [[spoiler:in the comics, Maerlyn is effectively the BigBad responsible for the origin of nearly every source of evil is, in ''Keyhole'', a he's a kindly old wizard who is vulnerable enough to be imprisoned for years in the form of a 'tyger']]. In response, Robin Furth wrote in the appendices that the comics take place on a ''different'' level of the Tower than the novels and are thus not a ''direct'' prequel.
%%* CurbStompBattle
%%* DownerEnding
%%* FailureIsTheOnlyOption
* ForegoneConclusion: The destruction of Gilead is treated this way.
* TheDragon: Flagg, as always. Amusingly, John Farson appears to think Flagg's guises are HIS Dragon.
* KillEmAll: Pretty much what any prequel to the Dark Tower series has to do.
* {{Matricide}}: [[spoiler:Roland Deschain accidentally shot his mother dead.]]
* OmnicidalManiac: During the Crimson King's MotiveRant, he says this is his plan.
* PosthumousCharacter: Most of the cast, as the series takes place before the complete destruction of Gilead.
* ShoutOut: The Crimson King refers to himself as "the eater of worlds", something that the eponymous creature in ''Literature/{{It}}'' once described itself as.
** During the riddling scene in ''Treachery'', the answer to one riddle is [[Literature/AlicesAdventuresInWonderland "a raven and a writing desk"]].
* StuffedInTheFridge: A foregone conclusion but [[spoiler: Susan Delgado's death]] struck many this way.
* TomboyAndGirlyGirl: Aileen and Susan Delgado in a nutshell.
* WhamEpisode: The endings of ''Treachery, Fall of Gilead'' and ''Battle of Jericho Hill''. [[spoiler:While all {{Foregone Conclusion}}s to fans, the sequential deaths of Roland's friends and parents are shocking because what was given a HandWave in the books is rendered in full tragic detail here.]]
%%* YankTheDogsChain
%%* YouAreTooLate
* WhateverHappenedToTheMouse: Where exactly the doors that bring Eddie and Susannah come from are never fully explained. They are vaguely hinted at coming from some higher power (the Tower itself possibly). Also, exactly why Flagg can't outright kill Roland and his band with all his power and instead has to attempt indirect methods is also never fully explored.

''"Time flies, knells call, life passes, so hear my prayer. Birth is nothing but death begun, so hear my prayer. Death is speechless, so hear my speech."''